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Cowboys Draft 2017: Looking At Need Based On Free Agents & How To Draft Their Replacements

If the Cowboys choose to draft replacements for free agents they lose, here’s a few to know.

Utah v UCLA Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have just fewer than 20 free agents set to hit the market which is a sizable contingent. This is a team over the past several years that has spent their resources on re-signing their own and drafting replacements. It makes you think about certain key areas such as in the secondary or defensive line that must be addressed. We know that they will try and bring back some of their own but what if they end up having to replace guys with rookies?

We’re going to look at some key guys that are scheduled to be free agents and then show you who their best replacements may be in the draft. Trust that we know there is no way they will lose all 18 guys set to hit the market but the exercise is fun nonetheless.

Cornerback

This is a position to where the Cowboys could lose two guys potentially. Both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are free agents, leaving Orlando Scandrick and Anthony Brown as the incumbent starters. In this scenario, you would likely be looking for a full-time guy to recoup the loss of Carr.

Sidney Jones, Washington

Jones has all of the measurable attributes you would want in a full-time corner. He’s got length and quickness with the awareness you look for in a starting cornerback. He’s got good hip movement and quick feet; he can turn and run with just about any type of receiver. His best attribute is his ability to stay on the field and he’s never missed a start in college.

Jones is tall and athletic but also provides some playmaking ability that would be an upgrade over what the secondary has been in the recent past.

Where You Got To Get Him: 1st Round

Fallback Option: Fabian Moreau, UCLA

Moreau doesn’t get near the attention his peers but he definitely deserves it. He’s known to be a bit of a gambler and will allow space but has the speed to close in quickly to make the plays. He had a ton of pass breakups for the Bruins and is unafraid to tackle in the open field. Admittedly, he could turn some PBU’s into INT’s and teams would be in love. -3rd Rounder

Edge Rusher

This is not necessarily about what they’re replacing but more of just a need based on a deficit already at the position. Last year’s draft didn’t shape up in the form of edge rushers for the Dallas Cowboys and this position is A1 on the list. You cannot rely on DeMarcus Lawrence or Charles Tapper and just forget about Randy Gregory.

Charles Harris, Missouri

Pass rushers are frequently taken off the board in the first round. Though there are other edge guys you may love, nobody fits more of the Rod Marinelli-mold than Harris. He’s an overachiever with elite first-step quickness and a relentless motor. For what he lacks in weight, he’s the speed rusher that the Cowboys prefer off the edge. He’s got some violent hands and is a team-first type of player.

Harris comes with zero off the field concerns and the way he attacks the line is something that Marinelli is going to fall in love with. Mizzou has a long history in bringing quality edge rushers into the NFL and there is little doubt that Harris will follow in his predecessor’s footsteps. Harris has bend and a seemingly natural ability to make himself small around the tackles. He’s not a finished product but he checks a lot of boxes for this team.

Where You Got To Get Him: 1st Round

Fallback Option: Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova

NFL teams are infatuated with athletes like Tanoh, he’s huge at 6’7, 280lbs but he can move. In the Senior Bowl, he was constantly disrupting the pocket and harassing quarterbacks. He’s just tapping the potential of his abilities but he knows how to get after the passer. -3rd Rounder

Wide Receiver

With both Terrance Williams and Brice Butler set to hit free agency, there is a need for a receiver. Dallas could look in a few ways for a guy to help the offense. Unlike cornerback, they don’t have as many prerequisites. Maybe they opt for a speed guy or maybe they want another big-bodied number two.

Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma

Westbrook’s story is pretty inspiring after he had a near career-threatening injury and was forced to begin his college career in JUCO. He sat out both the 2012 and 2013 seasons at Blinn College contemplating what his next steps were going to be. He returned to football and was named to the NJCAA All-American team and was a four-star recruit for both Baylor and Oklahoma. He eventually went to the Sooners to become the number two behind Sterling Shepard; he did not disappoint. Once Shepard left to the NFL, Westbrook shined with over 1,400 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns catches.

He’s got great speed and ability to run routes with precision and great awareness. He’s got a tremendous amount of control and quickness to stay with the ball and track it down. Westbrook is a threat to take it to the house on each catch. Westbrook has soft hands and is an explosive playmaker. He does have a small frame and there are concerns that he doesn’t always focus clearly. However, he just continuously shows toughness and the willingness to succeed.

Where You Got To Get Him: 2nd Round

Fallback Option: Chad Hansen, California

Hansen was a late-bloomer but he certainly has the tape that will have his popularity soaring come Draft day. He’s not the quickest guy but he knows how to routinely get separation and he does have another gear to him. What sets him apart is his innate ability to win contested balls. He fits perfectly for a team needing a number two guy with upside. -3rd Rounder

Safety

Dallas could lose two safeties in free agency as well with Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox on the free agent market. Byron Jones is developing into a nice grab at free safety but both Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier seem to be role player guys.

Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut

If Dallas is looking for a strong safety that can help in run support, this is their guy. He’s a very smart player and has good instincts but is better suited to play closer to the line of scrimmage. Melifonwu follows in the UCONN way of guys with supreme size and athleticism. Much like Byron Jones before him, Obi will test very well at the Combine and is a former cornerback. He’s got the speed and willingness to hit but finish the tackle.

He can match up with tight ends and his range and downhill closing speed is remarkable. He’s got good hand-eye coordination and grabbed six interceptions in two seasons. Pairing him with a guy like Byron Jones would be an absolute nightmarish duo for the NFL.

Where You Got To Get Him: 2nd Round

Fallback Option: Lorenzo Jerome, Saint Francis

He’s becoming one of my favorite prospects, he’s tenacious and smart. Every time you saw him in the Senior Bowl, he was forcing fumbles, laying the wood, or picking guys off. They tried to make him uncomfortable and play him all over and he did nothing but excel. -4th Rounder

Defensive Tackle

If Dallas loses the likes of Terrell McClain and utility man Jack Crawford, there will be a need to pair another guy with Maliek Collins and Tyrone Crawford. There is not certainty Crawford will move back to tackle either.

Caleb Brantley, Florida

Dallas prefers two penetrators in the middle and had success with McClain and Collins last season. Brantley is exactly that but perhaps a bit more talented for the three-tech position. He’s got the great initial burst to get up the field and attack the gaps. He can shed linemen with his strength and collapse pockets.

He’s the prototypical type of tackle that Marinelli tends to love and his motor is outstanding. He’s a tough player that rarely takes a play off and he’s the right kind of guy for a coach that continues to preach attack, attack, attack.

Where You Got To Get Him: 2nd Round (Perhaps Trade Up)

Fallback Option: Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA

He wins more with power than speed and he’s not much of a pass rusher. His game is geared toward stopping the run and clogging the holes. He’s got some good strength and agility and is a ferocious tackler that can strip guys at the line. He’s an aggressive player but could use some work on his pass rushing moves. -5th Rounder